Ani Difranco Educated Guess

On a note from the front line: "Like knocked me off my platforms so I pulled out my first pair of boots… and I suited up for the long walk back to myself.” With these words Ani DiFranco introduces herself on her latest record, Educated Guess, and they are prophetic for a record that sees her return to the basics of both sound and form. DiFranco wrote, performed and produced Educated Guess herself and the effort put forth shows through in the product; not a note is wasted and, stripped back to how she started, composition and lyricism have once again taken the spotlight. With her band gone and no assistance other than that which her own two hands can provide, DiFranco has abandoned the indulgent, jammy passages that characterised records like Evolve and goes back earlier. The guitar hooks are working-class folk on DiFranco's terms — intrinsically beautiful but totally song-serving at the same time. The album shows a conscious effort to return to the roots of DiFranco’s sound, but Educated Guess is far from a step backward. The lyrics reflect recent events in DiFranco’s life, including her family (the title track), her estrangement from her husband ("Origami”) and a few choice words against Bush’s state of the union ("Grand Canyon”) in a reactionary barrage that, as always, comes straight from her gut. For fans of DiFranco’s work, Educated Guess shouldn’t come as any sort of shock in form or content. At her heart, DiFranco has always been a solo performer that just happened to have a band backing her for a while. Educated Guess is Ani DiFranco doing what she does best in a form that has always worked for her. Hopefully we’ll get to hear her stay this way for a while. (Righteous Babe)